In this how to improve in anything article you’ll learn how to let your brain help you get better at everything!
It was springtime in Atlanta. Flowers were blooming and the air felt fresh. I had my hair tucked up under my baseball cap because I had the top down in my car. I was enjoying the fresh air and was excited that I was headed to The Pilates Tutor a studio near my house for my very first Pilates lesson!
I decided to try Pilates after listening to a podcast about the science of Yoga and Pilates. And, true to my DISC Communication Style, (I’m a high Dominance and high Influence – these Styles tends to embrace change, make bold moves and think we’re ready for anything!)
confident that I would be good at Pilates. After all, I’ve worked out
in some form or fashion for 25 years, I taught aerobics in college and
I’ve read hundreds of books on fitness and nutrition. I felt sure that I would
be good at Pilates, and that I would like it.
“Pilates training combats bad posture habits by teaching
your body to naturally assume a well-aligned, strong position. Pilates simultaneously strengthens and lengthens
your muscles uniformly, creating supple power.”
The Everything Pilates Book
Well, that would be a negative.
I found out very quickly from my Pilates Instructor, Michelle, a former professional dancer who is very graceful and flexible person, that Pilates excellence is completely different from the kind of fitness I was good at. In that first lesson, I felt like a fitness newbie. It was as though I had never lifted a weight or taken a tough fitness boot camp class in my life!
Pilates was very different. The subtle exercises, the breathing, the focus on body alignment and form, the unusual equipment and the varied movements felt awkward. My instructor (who is a very good teacher) would demonstrate an exercise that looked easy and doable.
She looked so graceful. But when it was my turn, my
attempts at the same movements, looked and felt goofy and stiff. While I
liked the idea of learning something new, I hated feeling so
unsure and looking so klutzy. After that first lesson, I thought about
not going back.
Why would I choose to put myself through this awkwardness?
“Regular Pilates practice energizes your body and increases its
endurance by improving your strength and flexibility, as well
as your breathing, circulation and posture.”
The Everything Pilates Book
Then, I thought about all that I know about brain science and learning new
skills. As a Professional Facilitator, I know that
the best way to learn a new skill in the classroom or on the job is to
work with how the brain learns. Ongoing practice, regular focus and
incremental improvement, over time, is how to improve in anything.
In fact my Wake Up Eager Daily Tips books are based upon the idea that taking small action steps, every day, leads to exponential (not linear) growth and improvement. (The Exponential Growth Principle.)
How to Improve in Anything Tip:
“Learning occurs best when information is incorporated gradually into the memory store than when it is jammed in all at once.” Brain Rules
My first attempts at Pilates felt difficult because it was a very different way of moving – my brain and therefore my body had not been trained in this way. If I wanted to get the benefits of Pilates, I needed to ‘get over’ my ego and my insecurity about how I looked.
Just like any other skill I’ve learned - I need to practice, practice and practice some more,
until the new Pilates movements become ingrained in my brain and begin to feel natural to
I didn’t have to run away because I felt unsure and insecure, I just needed to Lean Into The Learning.
Finding More Motivation & Support: My Wake Up Eager Daily Tips Program is an eBook of Tips for each Wake Up Eager Habit. It also includes an optional email that follows along with you, as you read and work on each daily strategy and tip. These Tips are mini-training programs and coaching conversations based upon the Five Wake Up Eager Habits for Leaders and Sales Pros. More Information Here.
I went back to my graceful Pilates
Instructor Michelle and I kept at it. To make sure I stuck with it I signed up for workouts twelve weeks in advance.
Now, months later, there are still a few awkward and klutzy moments
here and there, but sometimes I feel and look a little
graceful. I feel stronger in my core, my posture is improving (I feel
taller, really!) and I've gotten very comfortable with some of the
crazy machines and tools we use.
What about you? Do you want or need to improve a skill or ability in your personal or professional life, but feel awkward? Do you just want to just quit sometimes?
We all have moments of awkwardness, frustration and insecurity when we’re learning a new skill or changing a habit.
When you feel those feelings, don't quit.
Just remember this powerful how to improve in anything tip: work with how your brain learns - Lean Into The Learning.
Use this 'secret' for how to improve in anything and you'll be leading, selling or stretching like a yogi in no time!
Arthur Boorman was a disabled veteran of the Gulf War for 15 years. He was told by his doctors that he would never be able to walk on his own, ever again. He stumbled upon an article about Yoga and decided to give it a try. This is a wonderful real-life example of the Exponential Growth Principle.
The 1% A Day Exponential Growth Principle, which is: Taking Action every day leads to exponential (not linear) growth. You can strengthen ANY Area of your life, by leaps and bounds, by focusing on that Area for less than 15 minutes a day (1%). And, in 70 days, you'll be twice as good.
This beautiful transformation represents the power of regular practice and focus in fitness pursuits, in business pursuits, in how to improve in anything! Enjoy: